Pulling Links: The Pain Thresholds of Removing Common Backlinks after Penguin

Many of you probably heard about the launch of our new tool, Remove ’em, which helps you find and remove bad backlinks. Well, while I suppose it would be nice if everyone got penalized and had to use our tool, I think we would all rather avoid penalties and, on top of that, costly cleanups. So, let’s talk through a little bit about exactly how hard some links are to remove. Let’s start with the easiest to remove, then move down the scale.

link removal

Oh yeah, and if you want 10% off of Remove ’em just use the coupon code tgc10. So, without further adieu, in order from easiest to remove to hardest to remove…

Your own links
First let’s be clear. Just because a link is easy to remove doesn’t mean it’s a good link. In fact, links from your own personal private network can spell a nightmare for your site, but at least the clean up is free. Log in to your sites and remove them.
Pain Threshold: Mosquito Bite
Rented Text Links
The worst part about rented links, aside from their propensity to get you penalized, is that you have to keep paying for them monthly. However, if you happen to need to remove them, there is a really easy way – stop paying. You might want to follow up with a nice email, but it should be pretty easy.
Pain Threshold: Biting the inside of your cheek.

Paid Permanent Text Links
These are not quite as easy because the webmaster isn’t expecting a payment. In fact, you will probably have to pay the webmaster to remove them. However, having that contact information and a history is always nice. Send an email, bite the bullet, and pay the man to take down the link.
Pain Threshold: Kick to the shins by a 6 year old wearing heelys.

Paid Directory Links
The only reason why these are slightly easier to remove than directory links is that you can track down the contact information via payment. However, don’t expect to get out of here for free. Nearly all directory owners expect you to pay for the removal because it legitimately takes time to go in, find your stuff, and pull it out.
Pain Threshold: Same kid, but with the heel.

Free Directory Links
Alright, now we start getting into the really painful stuff. So, you signed up with an SEO firm that promised to get you into hundreds of related directories, drive tons of business to your site and get you top rankings? Well – here’s the kicker: they automated it. This means that while it took them 30 minutes to blast your site out across the web, you have to remove these one by one. And just because the directory is free doesn’t mean the removal will be. Most of these sites have long been abandoned by their owners, who merely cash in on advertising or the services that spam their own directories. Good luck.
Pain Threshold: Getting a wasp stuck in your shorts.

Paid Blog Reviews
So, you signed up with a service to get reviews of your site and, a month later, you now have 300 links from unique domains, all with modest PageRank and terrible unrelated content. Totally under the radar, right? Most of these bloggers don’t put contact information on their site, so you often have to go back through the service you used and pay them to pull the links. It is the only way.
Pain Threshold: Very short shorts, very many wasps.

Comment Spam
Did someone convince you to allow their service to place “relevant comments” on “popular blogs”. How’d that work out for you. Now you have to go to these bloggers and request that they remove YOUR SPAM from THEIR SITE. It’s like tagging the local corner store with your name in spraypaint and then begging them to remove it. Be prepared to pay the piper.
Pain Threshold: Place your right hand on a table, 脗聽fingers spread out. Then pull your index finger to the left towards your thumb until it snaps.
Forum Spam
Oooh, clever you, somebody got a copy of XRUMER and decided they are a blackhat god. Here is some news for you, what you just spread over the internet is nearly impossible to remove. Forum owners don’t take too kindly to profile spam, so you are going to have a tough time convincing them to find your account. Your only salvation is if you actually remembered the logins for each of those spammed accounts and didn’t use auto-gen passwords. If you are lucky, you can remove all 170000 of them. One at a time.
Pain Threshold: Knock your teeth out, then chew them.
Press Release Spam
The only thing worse than traditional spam is spam on sites that don’t think that it is possible at all for their links to harm you. If you pushed out hundreds of press releases loaded with manipulated anchor text, chances are some of them got picked up on halfway decent sites. Those sites aren’t going to give you the time of day, unless you are willing to pay for it.
Pain Threshold: Stab yourself in the leg with a knife.
Article Syndication
Oh, and the last, and worst, by far is removing article syndication links. When you drop an article on ezinearticles or one of the other top article sites, and then start promoting it left and right with auto-submission software, you are asking for it. Not only will thousands of article syndication sites pick it up, so will sploggers, spam sites, content farms and more. These are the quintessential examples of set-it-and-forget-it sites where no one is at the wheel. If you find contact information, consider yourself lucky. And, when you do, expect to negotiate hard to have folks peak into software running their site and automating content when they don’t even know basic HTML. You might have to pay a billable hour to his local webmaster to handle the removal.
Pain Threshold: Remove the knife, with another knife.
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  1. SEOMom (Orit)
    Jun 7, 2012

    What a great post! Thank you! I have to say that I can really relate to the concept of ‘pain thresholds’, because it really does hurt 馃檪 you work so hard on building your links and then Google comes along and flushes it all away… luckily I’m not sure I’ve been hurt by penguin, I’ve dropped about 15 places on one term only and the rest are going strong, so I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize any of my other terms, so I feel like it’s “Sophie’s Choice” 馃檪 I have to say that it’s not all black or white, I actually do believe in link directories, only when they have great metrics and a strong quality assurance policy (and not free of course, as you mentioned), and the same goes for the rest of the categories in the post. Also, whilst in the past we used to refer to directory submissions as an “ongoing effort” this, of course, is not a practice that neither us or any other quality SEOs should do… Will be following your blog! (didn’t find any social media links though, so added to favs)

  2. Abdul Rehman Agha
    Jun 7, 2012

    The pain threshold is definitely the highest in trying to remove links from article directories. In fact, I have barely had in success in trying to get the links off article directories for one of my blogs. Spammers have turned even the best article directories, like Ezinearticles and Goarticles, into worthless crap piles. *sighs*

  3. Mike Bayes
    Jul 31, 2012

    We have a new client that has all of these problems. I mean ALL of them. I am wondering when is the time to just start over with a new site. All of the energy spent going through the pain to remove and repair back links could be spent on a new site and a fresh start. Not sure what the answer is, but this was a great post to point out the pain, dollars and energy needed to repent.


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